12 stops on a scenic fall road trip from Atlanta

Atlantans are on tiptoes these days, eagerly awaiting fall's crispness and color. Until you can officially put on that sweater and strike up a bonfire, take a road trip through the Great Smoky Mountains and see all that Sevierville, Tenn., has to offer.

Sevierville, located four hours from Atlanta, is a picturesque destination for a fall weekend getaway. The quaint mountain town hosts special events every autumn, whether you're a car lover (Great Smoky Mountain Auto Fest on Oct. 12-13), chocolate lover (Rocky Top Chocolate Wine Trail on Oct. 27) or an arts lover (Robert Tino's Smoky Mountain Fall Homecoming on Oct. 5-7).

But Sevierville offers much more than changing color, so roll the windows down, queue up your favorite music and hit these 12 spots to soak in its comfort food, unique culture and scenic views.

1. Driving tours

Specifically designed for fall days, experience the mountain atmosphere by following one of Sevierville's two driving tours.

The English Mountain Fall Driving Tour, an off-the-beaten-path driving tour, was designed to offer spectacular views of the mountains all year long, but especially as the leaves change color. Sevierville's Middle Prong Fall Foliage Tour takes travelers along back roads, rivers and streams to discover little-known but Instagram-worthy views, as well as historic points of interest.

So fill up the tank and hit the road.

2. Hearty start

First opened by a hungry hiker, Flapjack's Pancake Cabin rose to fame when it was highlighted by Southern Living's "Best of the South" as a favorite breakfast spot. The restaurant serves an array of creatively flavored pancakes, omelets and egg platters. Try the Sticky Bun Pancakes, a fan favorite and a house specialty, made with swirls of cinnamon and plenty of icing on top.

3. Hike among the leaves

Lace up your boots and experience fall foliage in full display. For stunning mountain views, hike the paved trail to Clingmans Dome, the highest point (6,643 feet) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Laurel Falls and Hen Wallow Falls offer up-close experiences with breathtaking waterfalls. For a challenge, take on the strenuous 4-mile hike to a bare rock summit at Chimney Tops.

4. Local flavors

Five wineries participate in The Rocky Top Wine Trail — an opportunity to taste up to 70 local wines. Pick up a passport at any of the participating wineries or distilleries and begin experiencing the flavors and feels of each unique venue.

5. Home-brewed haven

The staff at Sevier Distilling Co. are experts in the art and science of distilling, showcasing family recipes passed down through the years. Don't miss "The Colonel," its 1,000-gallon still.

6. Apple everything

"Apple is king" at Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, a white farmhouse in the middle of an apple orchard, and the separate Applewood Farmhouse Grill. The restaurants offer Southern favorites such as fried chicken, as well as breakfast fare, kid-friendly choices and an allergen menu. No visit is complete without a taste of its famous apple fritters and non-alcoholic applewood julep.

7. Thrill seekers

Zip line though the mountains as the leaves are changing and see the Smokies like never before at Adventure Park at Five Oaks. Families can enjoy 70 acres of zip lines, ropes courses and horseback riding trails.

For more excitement, try "Zip at Night," which allows thrill-seekers to zoom through the trees in the dark.

8. Stay the night

Make it a weekend by staying in a cozy mountain cabin. Hidden Mountain Resort offers rustic cabins privately tucked away in a colorful forest resort.

Need something for the kids? Wilderness at the Smokies boasts an entire indoor water park steps from the room. For a farmhouse feel, The Lodge at Five Oaks provides modern amenities in a homey atmosphere — plus a buffet breakfast.

9. Musical heritage

The center of Sevierville pays homage to its most famous resident: Dolly Parton. The country music star was born and raised here. A lifesize bronze statue on the lawn of the iconic Sevier County Courthouse downtown commemorates her hometown roots.

The courthouse also is an eye-catching example of Victorian architecture with a recently refurbished four-sided Seth Thomas clock in its tower. In the fall, the century-old trees surrounding the courthouse and Parton's statue, by Jim Gray, turns brilliant hues of yellow and red.

Another musical connection is found at the old Richardson Cove Baptist Church, where Frankie King and Lydia Franks were married on Dec. 17, 1936, as its first wedding. King, known by his nickname Pee-Wee King, wrote the "Tennessee Waltz" music.

10. Sweet tooth

Nearby is the cleverly named Courthouse Donuts, where the taste is "arresting," but "you be the judge." These homemade donuts are hand-dipped and designed personally for every customer. Get creative with its extensive list of toppings.

11. Get spooky

Kyker Farms' corn maze and pumpkin patch offer both family-friendly experiences and a thrill at night. During select weekends in October, the "Korn Maze" becomes the prime spot to take down zombies in an interactive paintball ride called Zombie Blasterz.

12. Historic sites

Step back in time by visiting the Sevierville's sites, notably Fair Garden, a Civil War battlefield. The well-marked site on the campus of Walters State Community College is part of the Tennessee Civil War Trail. Just a third of a mile away, the white clapboard and green shutters of Murphy's Chapel United Methodist Church make for a photographer's dream.

Frederick Emert Covered Bridge is a newer addition with a connection to history. It was built in 2000 to honor Frederick Emert, a Revolutionary War soldier from Pennsylvania who served under George Washington and was one of Sevier County's first settlers. It's in an area known as Emert's Cove, which also is near Eugene W. Huskey Environmental Center.

Find one of the few remaining swinging bridges crossing the Little Pigeon River near the Darius and Mary Robertson House, which was built around 1880 and is believed to be the first house constructed by Lewis Buckner, an African-American carpenter and furniture maker.

With these stops and many more things to do and see, Sevierville, Tenn., provides a quintessential autumn experience for fall fun, which is just a road trip away.

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